Cut Line: Patriots, Presidents, Playoffs

By Rex HoggardSeptember 4, 2015, 3:52 pm

Monday’s finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship means this week’s 36-hole cut on the PGA Tour won’t arrive until Saturday, but we’ve got you covered with a special Round 1 edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

A true patriot. During an event earlier this year in Tulsa, Okla., Major Dan Rooney announced that for the first time demand would outpace supply in the inspiring nine-year journey of the Folds of Honor.

Rooney, who founded the Folds in 2007 to provide educational support to the spouses and children of America’s fallen and wounded service men and women, wasn’t trying to temper expectations for 2015; that’s not the major’s style.

Instead he was inspiring the crowd and an organization that has already provided more than 7,500 scholarships, including $4.3 million worth in 2012.

This Labor Day weekend, courses across the country are participating in Patriot Golf Day with golfers adding $1 to their green fees to help fund the Folds of Honor.

Rooney closed his speech in May with a simple challenge: Don’t stop working until every request can be met.

Tweet of the week: @ZachJohnsonPGA “I knew he got lucky the first time around ...”

The Open champion was taking a friendly jab at Jordan Spieth, who threw out the first pitch on Tuesday at the Boston Red Sox game.

After tossing a perfect strike last month when he threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game, Spieth’s attempt at Fenway Park was high and wide.

Considering the competition, Cut Line would still pencil in the 22-year-old as our No. 1 starter.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Slam-med shut. The PGA of America announced this week that it would be canceling this year’s Grand Slam of Golf following the association’s decision in July to move the event away from Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

The move was prompted by Donald Trump’s controversial comments regarding Mexican immigrants and it appears the PGA was unable to find a suitable replacement.

While a one-year hiatus for the 36-hole exhibition is hardly a cause for concern, it is disappointing considering how entertaining this year’s major championship season was.

As an alternative to an outright cancelation, may we suggest the PGA relocate the event to Dallas National and have Spieth, Jason Day and Johnson – no need for an alternate – play what would be an awesome game of “wolf.”

Presidential hopefuls. Who would have thought that Nick Price, captain of this year’s International Presidents Cup team, would have an easier decision with his captain’s picks than his counterpart Jay Haas?

With the matches being played in South Korea for the first time in October, it seems likely Price will select Byeong-Hun An, who was born in Seoul and is currently 11th on the point list.

While Price’s second option may not be as clear cut, if Sangmoon Bae, who is scheduled to report for mandatory military service at the end of this season in South Korea, can piece together another solid week following his tie for sixth at The Barclays it could make Price's second pick just as straightforward.

Haas, however, will have a much more complicated choice. With both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson outside the automatic qualifiers, conventional wisdom suggests his first pick would be one of the two veterans (probably Mickelson).

With his son, Bill, currently perched at No. 11 on the points list Haas will find himself in an unenviable position for his second selection, with the decision coming down to Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker.

Missed Cut

Silly math. In recent weeks McIlroy reclaimed his place atop the Official World Golf Ranking from his couch and Day moved to within a confusing round of mathematical musical chairs of the top spot.

This week Spieth, who was overtaken by McIlroy on Monday, said that Day was No. 1 “right now,” which goes to the heart of the current world ranking debate.

The ranking’s two-year rolling cycle may not be a perfect system, as we saw on Monday when McIlroy moved back to No. 1 without hitting a meaningful shot, but it is the best golf has.

While the top spot gets the most attention, the real intrigue with the world ranking isn’t based on who is ranked No. 1 as much as it is the player at No. 51, with the top 50 being the widely held benchmark for entry into the game’s best events.

The top ranking makes for good water-cooler conversations, but since we aren’t hearing a lot of debate whether Brendon Todd (currently No. 50) is .001 average ranking point better than Victor Dubuisson (No. 51) then it seems the OWGR folks are doing something right.

Back to the drawing board. Since the Tour continues to tinker with the FedEx Cup Playoffs, points for this year’s postseason events were reduced from five times those awarded during the regular season to four times as many, it seems an apropos time to improve participation.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff stop to rest his mending ankle, which was a perfectly understandable move, but Sergio Garcia’s decision to sit out the first two playoff stops should set off alarms in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The Spaniard, who began the postseason 31st on the points list, decided to skip the first two events because, well he could. There is no way to make the independent contractors play, but the Tour could create a format where players are penalized, say 500 points, for skipping events.

The playoff concept may not be a perfect fit for golf, but the idea of a “bye” week certainly doesn’t work either.

Getty Images

Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”